Dhanoa says air power is most sensitive to technological change

by Dinakar Peri

Stating that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had achieved its objective in the Balakot air strike, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) B.S. Dhanoa said on Monday that it was possible due to the technological edge the IAF has and that the result would have been even better if the Rafale jets had been inducted “on time”. Air power is most sensitive to technological change, he stated.

“In the Balakot operations, we had technology on our side and we could launch precision stand-off weapons with great accuracy. In the subsequent engagement, we came out better because we had upgraded our Mig-21s Bisons and Mirage-2000 aircraft... The result would have been further skewed in our favour had we inducted the Rafale aircraft in time,” ACM Dhanoa said. He was speaking at a seminar jointly organised by IAF and Centre for Air Power Studies to mark the birth centenary of Marshal of IAF (MIAF) Arjan Singh.

‘Like Operation Parakram’

He observed that with the proposed induction of the Rafale aircraft and the S-400 Surface to Air Missile (SAM) systems in the next 2-4 years, once again the “technological balance will shift in our favour, like it was in 2002, during the Operation Parakram [major military mobilisation after terror attack on Parliament].”

In this regard, ACM Dhanoa stated that some critical technological inductions like the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), fourth generation fighter aircraft, Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) platforms and critical force enablers have to be fast-tracked to maintain “the edge in such short skirmishes where we cannot bring our numbers to bear for a decisive outcome.”

Only 5 Star Officer

MIAF Singh is the only five star officer of the IAF. During his service tenure, he flew over 60 different types of aircraft ranging from pre-WWII biplanes to the supersonic MiG-21. He undertook his first solo flight on a MiG-21 on his 50th birthday, when he was the CAS. He retired from service on July 16, 1969. The government conferred the rank of MIAF on him on January 26, 2002. Later he served as India’s Envoy to Switzerland and Kenya, and also as the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi.